When someone breaks a bone it’s expected that they will rush to hospital for immediate
treatment. However, it’s much less common for New Zealanders to seek support when
they’ve been struggling to manage their mental health.
During the COVID-19 pandemic our community has been dealing with significant challenges. For some it might be sadness about a family member they can no longer visit overseas, for others it’s financial pressure, and many share a general anxiety from seeing our ‘normal’ world turned upside down.
Annabel Prescott of Anamata Youth Health and Youth Development service, and Jacqueline Chartrand-Glenn of Tuatara Counselling Services have been finding ways to work together to support people in mental health distress. This includes ensuring any barriers, such as
financial or transport are removed for people needing to access support.
“Instead of dividing us, in many ways the recent national lockdown united us” says
Jacqueline. “We worked collectively to support each other during a time of huge upheaval.
For some, the pandemic has bought to the surface underlying mental health challenges. This
experience has given us a reason to start talking about our wellbeing and prioritising it,
which is actually a really good thing” says Jacqueline.
Jacqueline’s a qualified Counsellor, Member of New Zealand Association of Counsellor and an Accredited ACC counsellor. She works with a wide range of clients and utilises a number of different techniques. Unique to Taupō, Jacqueline has a specialisation in Sandplay Therapy. This is a creative therapy that provides clients with an alternative to traditional talk therapy.
During the lockdown, the district’s health clinics and support services agreed on a segregation of duties. “For Anamata it was about ensuring our young people were still able
to access the support they needed, including contraceptive services. Being able to work
collaboratively with other health providers was incredibly powerful, and has helped to build
trust and open the doors for future collaboration” says Annabel.
Annabel and Jacqueline both see collaboration within mental health services as vitally
important. “At Anamata we find that young people choose the part of their life they want to
share with us. It might be about their sexuality, their mental health, or they may just want a
safe space to hang out. It’s important that we create a community of care with other
providers in Taupō, so that young people can find help in a way that works best for them.
None of us can individually awhi everyone who needs help, we have to work together” says
Jacqueline agrees, adding that providing a seamless connection of support for a community
achieves the best results. The pair are hopeful that other local organisations will continue to
Jacqueline’s top tip for those feeling overwhelmed? “The first step is to breathe. It really is
the simplest, fastest way to help your mind and body self-regulate and slow down. Breathe
in and out slowly, focusing on your tummy. Watch your lower diaphragm rise and fall with
each breath, focusing your energy on each breath. Then find someone safe you can talk to.
If you get told to ‘harden up’ then please go find someone else who will listen! There is no
point burying your feelings - we now know that what you bury simply grows” she says.
For more information:
Anamata - www.anamata.org.nz
Tuatara Counselling Services - www.tuataracounsellingservices.nz
Mental Health NZ (including COVID-19 wellbeing advice) www.mentalhealth.org.nz